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Calling a big raise of a chop

This is a Tournament hand with blinds at 50/100 and ante of 10.

  • UTG (8000 - 80BB)
  • UTG+1 (9000 - 90BB)
  • LJ (7000 - 70BB) 
  • HJ ( 10000 - 100BB)
  • CO (12000 - 120BB)
  • BU (7000 - 70BB)
  • SB (10000 - 100BB)
  • BB (10000 - 100BB)

Preflop: Villain is in the CO. Folded to him. He opens to 300. It folds to the BB who calls with Jc7c. We go heads up to the flop.

Flop (Pot size 680): 6s8h9c

Hero checks. Villain checks back.

Turn (Pot size 680): 7s

Hero checks. Villain checks back.

River (Pot size 680): Td

Hero bets 1400. Villain raises to 8000. Hero calls. Villain shows QdJd and wins with a straight.


It is the early stages of a tournament. Villain raises from the CO to 3x and hero defends with a suited Jack. On a low connected board, the hero checks to the aggressor. 

It seems standard so far, however, a case could be made for leading this kind of flop. It favors the big blind range a lot more - BB has all the two pair combos and straights that CO may not have. Also it is a great board for hero's exact hand - pair+open-ended straight draw+ backdoor flush draw. However, check call is fine too. As it turns out, villain decides to check back.

On the turn, hero makes a pair. In this spot again, checking and betting both are fine. We prefer checking because in case the villain was pot controlling with an overpair or a 9, we are not going to fold out those hands anyways. We do run the risk of letting the villain catch up with his hands like KJ, KQ etc. On the other hand, if we bet and get raised here, it wouldn't be that great a spot since it is a board where if we make our straight, we are not going to get paid since the straight is so obvious. As played, checking is fine. Villain checks back.

The river brings in a straight on the board. And we have the second nuts. Here we have two options - either we can bet to extract value from a hand that is playing the board. Or we can consider a check raise on a reasonable sized bet. As played, hero decides to overbet and we like this play. It allows us to get maximum value when we are ahead. If villain is playing the board, he is calling much more to win a smaller portion of the pot. 

However, in this hand, things get interesting when Villain decides to raise big. When he does this, Villain is essentially representing a naked Jack or QJ, the absolute nuts. This leaves us in a tough spot. What do we do? 

Let's talk Maths. We have to call 6600 to win a pot of 10080, i.e. we need ~40% equity to call. And we might not even win the pot and instead end up chopping it. Do we have that much equity? If we assign the villain a range of naked Jacks (AJ, KJ, JJ) and the nuts (QJ), we see we have ~34% equity. So it is a -EV call and we should fold.

If we decide to throw in some bluffs in villain's range like hands which block the nuts like KQ, we might get enough equity to call. But realistically, do people bluff often enough in this spot? We don't think so.

The probability that the villain is bluffing here is even less likely because you overbet the river which screamed strength. If the villain now raises over that, it means you are likely beat or chopping. It sucks to fold the second nuts when played this way, but the general player population just isn't capable of bluffing in this spot. Calling a big bet just for a chopped pot is not a great position to be in, and we recommend folding this hand. Sure, you will sometimes be folded off a chop, but you are also protected against that during the times when you yourself have QJ and play it this way. Moreover, it is the early stages of a tournament, and you would do well by waiting to find better spots to build your stack.



Prashaste Sinha

Prashaste lives to eat and write. She's our very own homegrown poker sceptic who's gone on to enjoy her stint with poker and loves writing and interviewing people who are passionate about poker and life.